Nielsen Strengthens TV to Online Ad Data Link

By: Kate Kaye  Published: August 7, 2012

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Nielsen is partnering with a handful of digital ad technology and management firms to help advertisers reach TV audiences online. The Nielsen Online Audience Segments – TV Viewing offering is another step in Nielsen's quest to connect television to online advertising seamlessly, in part by applying some entrenched television ad audience standards to digital ads.

"In many ways it's the first of its kind in part because it’s starting with an important kernel of information which is the TV watching behavior of [Nielsen's] panel," said Toby Gabriner, president of video ad firm, one of Nielsen's partners in the initiative.

Nielsen and its partners Specific Media, Undertone, Videology, and Adap.TV expect agencies and advertisers to plan and manage their TV and online ad campaigns together using the Nielsen data. "We modeled the TV ratings data into the online universe," said Jonathan Carson, Nielsen's general manager of digital. "That enables our partners to group their online audiences together according to TV viewing behavior," he said.

The partner firms would receive anonymized audience segments enabling advertisers to target people who have watched certain types of TV programming. Other segments might be based on lifestyle, demographic, or CPG habit data, or the amount of time spent watching television. As more people watch time-shifted television or only watch TV programming online, advertisers need to turn to digital media to reach these light TV watchers.

According to Nielsen, the online audience segments do not include personal data. The company works with DSP firm MediaMath to build online audience segments using lookalike modeling based on Nielsen's TV and Internet panels. "Browser cookies of Nielsen panelists are not used in Nielsen Online Audience Segments," Nielsen told ClickZ.

The TV Viewing product follows Nielsen's launch in March of its Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings system, which combines reach, frequency, and GRP metrics with TV ratings data.

Nielsen has been working to bridge the online-offline gap for years now. In 2009, for instance, the company partnered with online ad networks to enable household-level online ad targeting using audience cluster PRIZM data from Nielsen-owned Claritas. The new offering integrates the Claritas audience segment data with Nielsen's television ad segments; think home decorating show viewers or watchers of college sports programming.

Advertisers and agencies can access the data sets through online data firm Exelate, or incorporate it through other partner platforms, said Carson.

Carson suggested the new data sets will push advertisers toward thinking of the Internet as a frequency medium rather than merely an incremental reach medium. "If you think about a CPG product, say a haircare product or a tub of toothpaste which somebody is going to have to purchase a handful of times over the course of the year…advertisers are very concerned with overall awareness…and that's generally a reach scenario," said Carson. "But you really want to build frequency, and remind people many times about the brands, so that when they're actually going into the drugstore they've recently been reminded of your brand's attributes." That is where using TV data to target online audiences will come into play, he said.

"Our vision is at some point in the future it would make no sense to run an online ad without TV," said Carson.